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Sindh in ruins, Says Khawaja Saad Rafique

KARACHI, (DNA ) :  Federal Minister for Railways Khawaja Saad Rafique was shocked to see potholed streets and broken pavements on a recent visit to Karachi.

He was here on Saturday to inaugurate a Railway Employees Apartment building. Criticizing the Sindh Government he said, “The province gets Rs 9 billion and it is still in ruins.”

“Instead of making tall claims they should they should hold themselves accountable. They should give basic necessities to their people,” he said.

Speaking about the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) he said that there were issues in the original plan. He said the Sindh Government never wanted to begin work on the KCR. “The metro bus should have come to Karachi first. But the public transport system here is horrible,” he said.

He said the decision of Muttahida Qaumi Movement Pakistan to distance themselves from London was a wise move.

Accompanied by DS Railway Nisar Memon and DCO Karachi Nasir Nazeer, Khawaja Saad Rafique claimed that despite being old, the railways system was still reliable and safe, saying people should not worry about travelling with the Pakistan Railways as measures were being taken to avoid such deadly incidents in future.

As many as 22 people had died and over 60 others were wounded when a speeding Bahauddin Zakria Express had rammed into the Fareed Express from behind when it was stationary on the track near the Qaddafi Town between Jumma Goth and Landhi Railway Stations.

Saad expressed sorrow and grief over the loss of precious lives in the accident and said that those responsible for the accident had been suspended while criminal cases would be lodged against all the responsible persons.

“If we do not punish those whose negligence led to the fatal accident, people would continue putting lives of people at risk,” he observed and claimed that the signal system was properly working when the driver of the Zakaria Express rammed his train into the stationary train.

“The train responsible for the accident was cruising at the speed of over 60 kilometers instead of 30/km per hour. The signal was red but the driver and his assistant ignored the signal,” the minister said and added that Federal Inspector of Railways had been assigned the task to investigate the accident and present his findings within the next eight days.

He claimed that apart from irreparable human loss in the accident, Pakistan Railways also suffered a huge financial loss as not only both the locomotive and coaches were damaged in the accident but the department had to pay millions of rupees as compensation to heirs of those who were killed and injured in the accident.

The railways minister also criticised some TV anchors, saying they were ignorant people who did not know anything about the railways but were creating hopelessness among the people and advised them to consult reporters who covered the railways before criticising the department and the system.

Later, the minister inaugurated the ground-breaking of doubling the railway track between Port Qasim and Bin Qasim Railway Station, saying this would be carried out at the cost of Rs90 million and increase the traffic between the port and its destination in the upcountry.

Commenting on the revival of the Karachi Circular Railway (KCR) under terms and conditions laid down by JICA, he said the revival of KCR under the Japanese model was not feasible as they wanted the construction of a residential colony for thousands of occupants of railway lands in Karachi before providing a soft loan for the revival of KCR. This is not feasible while the authorities wanted to give them monetary compensation to evacuate the railways land.

Khawaja Saad Rafique further claimed that revival of KCR or introducing a mass transit system in Karachi was not the responsibility of the federal government; in fact, it was the job of the provincial government or Karachi’s municipal authorities.

“The Sindh government should know that Punjab’s Orange Line Train is purely a provincial government subject and the federal government or Pakistan Railways has no stake in it,” he said and advised the Sindh government to approach CM Punjab Shahbaz Sharif for advice on introducing a mass transit system in Karachi.

He said the Pakistan Railways is ready to hand over its 260 acres of land to the Sindh government for the mass transit system and in the era of Syed Qaim Ali Shah, this offer was made to him so that he could pay a few billion rupees to the occupants and launch a mass transit system but he did not take interest in it for unknown reasons.

“If the Sindh government is interested in launching its own mass transit, we are ready to hand over the railway land to them. They may bring in any Chinese company, evacuate the land from occupants and launch their own mass transit. We are ready to provide them technical support,” he offered.

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